News: Iranian cavers discover one of the world’s deepest shafts

Parau Massif, Iran

Story and photos courtesy of Yousef Sorninia and Sadat Lotfizadeh

Ghar-e-Ghala Entrance

A large team of Iranian cavers led by Yousef Sorninia have discovered the second deepest shaft in the world. It is located in the Parau massif near Kermanshah in Iran, and less than 6km North of Ghar Parau. The area is in the west of Iran, around 100km from the border with Iraq.

A single pitch descent, broken only by a traverse on a blockage at -358m, descends to a large chamber 71m x 37m where there is a sump which has yet to be dived. At 562m Ghar-e-Ghala is just nine metres deeper than the 553m pitch in Patkov Gust, in Croatia.

The worlds deepest individual pitch is currently in Vrtoglavica Cave in Slovenia at 603m.

The team began exploration in Summer 2015. They have described the entrance, at an altitude of 2794m, as being shaped like a “big banana”, with snow and ice found for the first 60m collapsing onto the rock blockage 300m below, where a small hole can be used for shelter or bivouac. For scale if you look carefully at the photograph of the entrance you can see a caver standing above it on the far side.

Surveying was completed in September 2016, the surveyors are credited as S Mohamadi, M Nejat, H Forozandeh, Y Shariatmadari and E Mosadegh assisted by S Lotfizadeh.

The shaft was rigged with 700m of rope, and includes three traverses, three deviations and forty rebelays!

We are waiting to hear if a diving attempt is planned.

The survey is shown below, and gives a good idea of the scale. In comparison, the world’s fifth highest building the One World Trade centre in New York wouldn’t quite reach the surface.


Team members: Y Sourninia, S H Bozorgi, D Mafakheri, S Mafakheri, A Mafakheri, H Ahmadi, R KHorshidi, Y Shariatmadari, E Mosadegh, S Mohamadi, M Nejat, H Forozandeh, V Valiolahi, M Kiani, N Roznahan, N Ganji, G Ghorbani, M Mosavi, M Khalilzadeh, O Bahrami, M Rezaei, Y Abdolmaleki, A Ahmadinejad, H Ahmadinejad, E Gholami, M Zaravandi, B Karami, M Fatahpor, Heydarian, Ghasemi, ICSA, Sorena caving club